From left: Actresses LeslieCaron (who studied dance with Bardot), Bardot, EtchikaChoureau and MirjamKuosmanen aboard aircraft carrier USS Midway at Cannes in 1953. When the then-unknown Bardot took off her coat and revealed a tiny dress, the sailors roared and flashbulbs popped.
Bardot hammed it up with actor EddieConstantine in 1955.
Bardot and Novak at the 1956 Festival
Bardot (left) with KimNovak at the 1956 festival. Several years later, Jean-Luc Godard sought out Novak to star in 1963's Contempt, but his film company insisted he cast Bardot instead.
Brigitte Bardot and Kirk Douglas
KirkDouglas, then 37, got a jump on the paparazzi by taking a photo of the young Bardot himself in 1953. That same year, the two filmed Act of Love in Paris, a starring vehicle for Douglas in which Bardot had a bit part. Coupled with Bardot's early sex comedies like 1952's The Girl in the Bikini, her Cannes appearances throughout the early '50s established her image as a heartthrob. But if Cannes helped to put Bardot on the map, she did the same for the resort town whose film festival was still in its first decade. Bardot became an icon "for everything glamorous, fun, sexy," says MelissaOdabash, who designs swimwear for latter-day Bardots like Beyonce and CameronDiaz. As she puts it, "It takes an icon to put a place on the map."
Bardot, practiced in striking a pose, showed off at the 1957 festival.
Bardot didn't need a red carpet for her Cannes debut in 1953. "She is sex on legs," said her director husband RogerVadim, to whom she was married for five years. French intellectual Simone de Beauvoir proclaimed, "A saint would sell his soul to see Bardot dance."